Thursday, 27 June 2013

Proper Gluten Free Pasta

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posting this month! General end of term stress combined with moving out of this year's house (and, in my case, carting my possessions 300 miles up the country) has left us fairly exhausted. But this one's awesome enough to make up for it - I promise.

Since watching it done on Masterchef and countless other BBC food programmes, I've wanted to make my own pasta. At some point Zosia happened to mention missing ravioli since having to cut out gluten, and that was that. GLUTEN FREE RAVIOLI.

And you know what? It wasn't difficult. I didn't have a pasta-maker. And it was the best gluten free recipe I've ever made. Usually gluten free baking makes everything sort of crumbly, but this was properly elastic and smooth and lovely and I was so pleased. It was based on this recipe and took a little bit of time (and some extra man-power with the rolling out - thanks Harry!), but I'll definitely be making it again.

Ingredients (serves 4):
- 300g gluten free plain flour
- 1tbsp xantham gum
- 1tsp salt
- 5 eggs
- 1½tbsp olive oil

1. Mix together all the dry ingredients, then add the eggs and oil and mix until it stops resembling breadcrumbs and starts to come together (ideally, this would be done in a food processor).
2. Remove from the food processor, if using, and knead for a few minutes until a smooth ball has formed.
3. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 15 minutes - or as long as you need to while you do other things (this is a good time to make your ravioli filling).
4. Remove from the fridge and divide the mixture into four (this makes it MUCH easier to work with), then sprinkle some flour onto your worktop and roll out one of the pieces of dough to about half a centimetre. Then, fold the dough 4 or 5 times and roll out again. Repeat this about 6-7 times, or until your arms give up!
5. Roll out your dough as thin as you can get it. Then, for ravioli, use a biscuit cutter (or a glass) to cut shapes.
6. Beat another egg in a bowl with a splash of milk (you can just use milk if you're all out of eggs). Take one pasta shape and put a teaspoon of your ravioli filling into the middle (I made a spinach and ricotta filling - half the amounts there served three of us, so adjust to what you need). Brush around the edges with a little of the beaten egg, then grab another shape and stick down firmly. If it's not properly stuck it'll burst in the pan, so get pressing!

7. Repeat the whole thing with the rest of the dough (I told you it was a bit time consuming).
8. Bring a big pan of salted water to the boil and drizzle in some olive oil. Carefully drop in the pasta and cook for 4-5 minutes (the cooking time depends on the thickness of the pasta: if it was tagliatelle or something without a filling it would be more like 3-4 minutes). The best way to take it out and make sure it doesn't break is to use a slotted spoon, though don't worry if you don't have one.

9. Serve up with a good sauce. I made this because it's one of my favourites, and it was great. Like, REALLY great. Go make it.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The One That Made Rebecca Eat Vegetables

Mum could never make risotto - she has no patience for all the stirring - so we always had savoury rice instead. And as risotto is my university staple, this was my Mum's. And it's awesome. 

I made it last year for Zosia, Rebecca and Felix, and we noticed Rebecca leaving all the vegetables, which she'd done before but we'd never picked up on. We then discovered that Rebecca didn't like vegetables. Cue going through each one ('these are mange tout, they're kind of like peas...'), until SHE'D EATEN ALL THE VEGETABLES. This is my claim to fame and also brilliant-ness.

The 'Getting Rebecca to Eat Vegetables' Process
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 300g brown rice
- 600ml water
- 1tsp marmite
- 1-2tbsp herb de provence
- 1tbsp tomato purée
- salt and pepper
- handful green beans
- 75g baby corn
- 75g sugar snaps, or mange tout
- 150g cheddar cheese, grated

1. In a large saucepan, fry the onion  and garlic with a knob of butter for a few minutes. Add the carrot and cook for about 8 more minutes, until softened.
2. Add the rice and stir well. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the water, marmite, tomato purée and herbs, and season.
3. Bring to the boil, then put on a lid (or tin foil if you don't have one), turn down the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes - stirring halfway through so it doesn't stick.
4. Add the beans, corn and sugar snaps and cook for 5 more minutes before adding the cheese. Turn off the heat and put the lid back on for a minute so all the cheese melts, then serve - preferably with lots of garlic bread or courgette fritters.

 It's super simple, and unlike risotto it requires no effort whatsoever. So no patience required! The only thing is it doesn't keep so well (though I may attempt savoury rice patties at some point), so make sure you have plenty of people to eat it all!